Dozens of people woken at sunrise by loud noises were surprised to see what appeared to be an SUV dangling in the air over Vancouver’s English Bay on Tuesday.
Sascha Bendt, who lives in the West End, said the rumbling just after 5 a.m. was so loud, it felt like her bed was shaking.
“I thought, why is this happening so early in the morning?” said Bendt, who called it a “rude awakening.”
Her friend and neighbour, Leanne Leeck, thought it was the Coast Guard hovercraft.
Instead, video posted on social media showed two helicopters making passes up and down the bay, one with a vehicle dangling beneath it.
“You remember when I complained about the birds waking me up?” resident Amy Watkins narrated in a video she posted to Instagram. “Well these guys have been circling. I guess they must be filming a commercial or something.”
It turns out Watkins was right.
Talon Helicopters confirmed it was one of the two companies involved.
And Transport Canada told CTV News it had granted low level flight approval to the other chopper operator.
“The authorization includes safety conditions such as: weather conditions, flight crew qualifications, aircraft specifications, minimum altitudes, and area of operation,” wrote senior communications advisor Sau Sau Liu.
And while Bendt and Leeck are used to the noise in their neighbourhood that borders downtown, they both questioned the need to film at sunrise.
“You almost want to talk to the person who made that decision and go: “Are you sure you should be in your job?” quipped Leeck.
In a statement, Subaru Canada confirmed the filming was part of an ad for its new 2022 Outback Wilderness and that the company “followed all necessary protocols and received clearance from the City of Vancouver and Transport Canada.”
Public relations manager Julie Lychak went on to write: “We also wish to apologize to anyone we unintentionally disturbed while we were in the area.”
The noise prompted at least 12 calls to police and 15 to the city’s information line, 311, which by late morning had changed its phone menu to reference the noise, directing complaints to Transport Canada.
And while Transport Canada told CTV News its up to cities and municipalities to approve flight permits, a city communications manager said film permits aren’t issued for flights occurring over water.
“In this case, the helicopter company contacted our staff as a courtesy to notify them of their flight plan in advance,” wrote Godfrey Tait.
“At the time of notification our staff did not have concerns as the flight path was described as being between YVR and the mouth of English Bay and that the pilot did not expect to be close enough that sound would be noticed by residents on land.”
Tait added that the city is now following up with Transport Canada.
“Vancouver certainly got a rude wake up call this morning,” Bendt said
Fortunately for her and her West End neighbours, Subaru confirmed late Tuesday the filming is finished.